Locals pitch in with support and events to help Fiji recover from cyclone

By Anna Whyte

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READY TO BUILD: Students Kimberly D'Mello, Sophie Thompson, Hannah Skelton, Jamie Regan and Andrew Randrup are fundraising for their rebuild trip to Fiji. PHOTOS/ANDREW WARNER
READY TO BUILD: Students Kimberly D'Mello, Sophie Thompson, Hannah Skelton, Jamie Regan and Andrew Randrup are fundraising for their rebuild trip to Fiji. PHOTOS/ANDREW WARNER

Tauranga locals continue to band together to help Fiji after Cyclone Winston ripped through the island country.

Kimberly D'Mello, Sophie Thompson, Hannah Skelton, Jamie Regan and Andrew Randrup are among the group of Aquinas College students fundraising for $20,000 to help with the rebuild. They plan to travel to Fiji with teachers and some parents who have construction, trade and first aid experience, between July 10 and 20.

A group from the college usually go over to Fiji every one or two years to build homes for families in the village of Vanuakula, but now "there is more of an immediate need", said Miss D'Mello.

Miss Thompson said this year would be "more repairs".

Mr Randrup said they may be going outside the village for repair work as it was less affected by the cyclone compared to other parts.

Mr Regan said he was expecting they would see the difference "between where you go on holidays, and the real thing".

Miss Skelton said they had all been working hard to raise an extra $1800 on top of the $20,000 to get themselves to Fiji and for their accommodation.

Tauranga courier driver Maciu "Matt" Biu began helping collect items for Fiji after his village was "badly hit" in the cyclone.

The Red Cross in Greerton donated first aid kits, and Tauranga Party Hire gave him some old marquees to send to his village.

"It's quite devastating and saddening to see what happened, over here," Mr Biu said.

The Tauranga Seventh-Day Adventist Church was also helping Mr Biu by holding a concert to fundraise to help get the items to Fiji. Break Free Expeditions has loaded up its aid container for Fiji. It is set to sail on Sunday.

It will be going to the hardest hit areas including Rakiraki and Savusavu.

"Local businesses have been incredibly generous with their donations of materials," Ms Judge said.

Tauranga Rugby Club went to Arataki Kindergarten this week to run a rugby session, after the kindergarden donated items and raised money. The club would also be sending donations, after some of the men in the club's villages and families were affected by Cyclone Winston. "'Couldn't believe they went all out for the Fiji cause," Tauranga Sports Rugby Club Ati Aaifou-Olive said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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